The Gifts of the Quest

Have you ever thought about addressing all the imperfections in your life?

Well, I have.  I’ve been on a journey of mind, body and soul.  It all began when I finally realized that I needed to take time, for the first time in my life, to be alone to contemplate and decide where I need to be bold and when I need to rely on someone else to help support me.  I recently took that time and am just now realizing some of the implications that personal and professional changes will bring to me.  They are true gifts.  Part of my journey is related to taking huge risks and challenges on professionally and those are well underway.  Part of the journey is addressing personal issues of health, wellness and family.  All the changes will take time, but I am feeling positive about them all.eatpraylove

Tonight as I prepared a much healthier dinner than normal as part of changing my health, I saw that Eat, Pray, Love was on television.  It had been several years since I last watched this movie and since I remember being inspired by it the first time around, I watched again.  The last time, I was inspired to write about it here on the blog when I discussed seeking a soulmate.  If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s about a woman on a journey to find herself and redefine who she is and what she thinks is important and possible.  I won’t give any spoilers, but thought I’d share a quote from the end of the movie that speaks to any of you reading this post who are on a journey of rebirth in your own career or personal life.

“I’ve come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call “The Physics of The Quest” — a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: “If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself… then truth will not be withheld from you.” Or so I’ve come to believe.”

― Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love

So, if you’re on a journey, I applaud you.  It’s not pretty, nor is it easy.  Kudos for taking the first steps…

Grieving at Work- Strategies for Coping

grief2I worked in the HR trenches for most of my career and at every job, the trusty EAP brochure was not far from reach.  The only trouble is, employees just don’t tend to use the EAP (Employee Assistance Program) benefits and resources as often as we would hope.  Honestly, more employees would rather have a chat with someone in HR or a colleague and tell us their most personal troubles than to search online or through a brochure for something to help whatever ails them.  I know EAP has so many great benefits from financial advice, life changes advice (marriage, birth of a baby, divorce) and even bereavement advice, I feel like there has to be more that HR can offer.

I recently lost my grandmother to Alzheimers.  I was very close to her and visited her often, especially during the last ten years of her life.  The company I was with at the time only offered one day of bereavement for the death of a grandparent.  No consideration was given to the closeness of the relationship.  No call was received to give condolences.  So, in my extreme grief, I decided to reach out to my friends on Facebook for some suggestions of how to cope with the tremendous loss since I had never lost someone so close to me.

My friends and chosen colleagues in the HR world first embraced me in the most loving support I could hope for.  Then, they shared their personal tips on how to deal with grief.  Since death is a part of life, I want to share the tips here today in hopes they will help you, someone you love, a friend, or even a co-worker in need.  Here we go:

  • Hugs- Take hugs from everyone you can.  The act of being embraced actually makes you feel better and helps calm your body’s reaction to the grief.
  • A good joke-  It may seem like the wrong time to joke, but laughing launches chemicals in the brain to help you feel better.
  • Getting outside- A nice long walk, a game in the park, or a run may be just what you need to get your adrenaline going.
  • Prayer- While I know not everyone believes the same truth, if you pray, it can really help you.  Some of my most comforting moments were sitting in church.  My grandma died just before Easter, so a challenging time to hear that message, but ultimately very helpful.
  • Good friends- As much as you may want to be alone, the company of a good friend can lift your heart.  It also helps them feel like they are helping you.
  • Remembering good times with the loved one-  This is one I found difficult at first.  I didn’t want to think about her at all because it hurt too much.  Over the months, this one has gotten easier and now, I find that remembering fun times with Grammy really do help.
  • “Embrace the Moment”- My good friend Prudence Kumming told me to do this.
  • Street Wisdom– My sweet friend David D’Souza gave me the advice to read this blog.  So glad he did because I would have never found it without his suggestion.  It’s the story of how you can use the environment where you live to help you work through issues, concerns and thoughts.  So creative.
  • Let people help- One of the hardest things to do, if you’re like me, is let anyone help you.  Of all times, when you’re grieving is when it’s comforting to have someone take care of you.  Embrace it.
  • Care for yourself and be gentle with yourself-  This one comes from a brilliant woman, Heather Bussing.  So often we don’t take care of ourselves in these situations, we are too busy worrying about everyone else.  I was guilty of this.  Once I sat down and focused on this, I started feeling more like myself.
  • Books- My wise friend Margo Rose made several solid book recommendation for dealing with grief.  Healing After Loss was one and books by Kahili Gibran are supposed to do the trick.
  • Grief counseling-  If grief is too much to bear, see a grief counselor.  This is where the EAP can come in handy in terms of recommending local experts to help you.
  • Music- One of the things I found helpful was to listen to songs I know my Grammy loved.  Celebrating them through music is a very uplifting experience.
  • Sticking to a routine- I remember during my first real job, an employee lost a loved one.  I thought they would take the week off as bereavement and they came to work.  To my surprise, he told me that it was easier to continue the daily routine so he didn’t feel so bad.
  • “Living the Full Catastrophe”- My dear friend Geoff Webb made this suggestion.  Allowing yourself to feel and experience ALL parts of the process is the only way to really get through it.
  • Celebrate the person you lost- I’m seeing this more and more.  Sharing pictures and stories of the person who passed is a way to celebrate their life, not grieve the loss.
  • Sleep/ eat/ exercise-  It should go without saying, but making sure you do all the life basics is key to grieving.
  • Time Alone- My amazing friend Eric Winegardner suggested taking 2 days, or so, away.  Go somewhere by yourself and just be.
  • Understanding how Shiva is observed-  My wise and feeling friend Naomi Bloom shared the Jewish practice of Shiva.  Even though I am not of that faith, I admit that learning about it and taking some cues from the steps were very helpful in my dealing with my grief.

As you can see, there are many ways to deal with grief.  So, next time someone comes in your office and is struggling, feel free to give them the EAP brochure, but make additional suggestions.  They’ll welcome the input and information they may have never considered.

Be good to yourselves and feel free to share your tips on dealing with grief in the comments.  We’d all love to learn from it.

Wellness You Need for the Modern Workplace- HR Happy Hour #181

Guest: Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Co-founder and CEO of ShapeUp

This week on the HR Happy Hour Show, Steve and I talked with Dr. Rajiv Kumar MD, Co-founder and CEO of ShapeUp, an online wellness platform for companies and health plans that leverages the power of a trusted social network to improve the health of large populations.

ShapeUp is the leading global provider of clinically-proven, social networking-based employee wellness programs that help people exercise more, eat healthier, and lose weight. Founded in 2006 by two medical doctors, ShapeUp has pioneered an innovative approach to behavior change that leverages the power of social networking, gaming, coaching, and financial rewards to improve the health of large populations and reduce healthcare costs. ShapeUp’s social wellness platform covers two million lives across 128 countries and is used by more than 200 employers and health plans.

On the show, Dr. Kumar shared an update on the state of wellness and corporate wellness programs today as well as ShapeUp’s approach and vision of wellness as a very social activity at its core. Additionally, we talked about the role of technology in the support of corporate and individual wellness goals. Mobile, gamification, wearables, and social concepts have transformed both the activities and the design of wellness programs in the last few years.

You can listen to the show on the show page here or using the widget player below:

Check Out Business Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Steve Boese on BlogTalkRadio

Additionally, you can subscribe to the HR Happy Hour Show on iTunes, or for Android device users, from a free app called Stitcher Radio. In both cases just search for ‘HR Happy Hour’ and add the show to your podcast subscription list.

This was a fun and interesting show, and I hope you check it out. Many thanks to Rajiv and everyone at ShapeUp for joining us this week.

Human Resource Executive Forum: Are Your Wellness Programs Effective?

How effective are wellness programs in the workplace?

It’s not an easy question to answer.  There is no shortage of sites dedicated to providing insight on how well various programs work in order to help reduce overall healthcare costs in organizations.  What interests me most though is hearing about ideas organizations are actually using that lead to improved well-being of employees and what are the various metrics we need to be measuring.  I want to hear about everything from internal health fairs, creative workspaces that promote activity, healthier food options in cafeterias, and other innovative ways organizations are affecting wellness.

I’ll be attending the Human Resource Executive Forum this week and they’re offering a wellness session that will provide insight from top professionals including:

  • Jennifer Benz, Chief Strategist and Founder, Benz Communications
  • Mark Bukowski, Senior Health and Clinical Consultant, Aon Hewitt
  • William D. Katz, Vice President of Human Resources, AmeriGas Propane Inc.
  • Michael L. Taylor, M.D., Medical Director for Health Promotion, Caterpillar Inc.

I’ll be sharing what I learn with you here later in the week.  I encourage you to come experience the Human Resource Executive Forum for yourself.  The learning comes not only from the discussion by the expert panel, but from the roundtable discussions that you will be part of.

In the meantime, share your most creative workplace wellness ideas with me in the comments.  None are too crazy.  My favorite one lately is having separate “healthy” checkout lines in workplace cafeterias to promote healthy eating.  What are your ideas?